The Evans Lab’s research is focused on the development and clinical translation of optical tools to address challenges in biomedical research and clinical medicine. We use optical spectroscopy, imaging, and microscopy methods to detect, measure, and quantify what is otherwise invisible to address unmet needs in the care of patients. We take an interdisciplinary, team-based approach in our research, combining physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, computer science, and clinical expertise. Our lab is located at the Charlestown Navy Yard Building 149, a campus that encourages and fosters discovery, interaction, and collaboration. 

About Our Work

Our efforts are focused in three highly complementary areas:

Tissue Oxygen Sensing: “Smart” Bandages and Wearable Devices
We are developing new tools and techniques for detecting, quantifying, and monitoring tissue oxygenation properties. The centerpiece of this technology is a set of newly synthesized, brightly emitting porphyrin oxygen sensors whose emission is modulated by the presence of molecular oxygen. When paired with a green-emitting reference dye, the red phosphorescence emission can be used to precisely measure tissue oxygenation. We have expanded the scope of our tools to include not only tissue oxygen concentration, known as oxygen tension or pO2, but also metrics such as oxygen consumption rate, pulse rate, and blood oxygen saturation in a single measurement. We are developing molecular and electronic methods to be integrated into sensing films, bandages with drug-release capabilities, wearable sensors for patient monitoring, and sports monitors for recovery and performance training. This technology is currently in three clinical trials in the Boston area, and will soon expand to include new studies as we grow this exciting research direction.

Advanced Microscopy: Coherent Raman Imaging, Nonlinear Absorption, and Lifetime Microscopies
Our laboratory is deeply interested in the development of advanced microscopy tools to address biomedical and clinical problems, with a focus on applications in dermatology.  While coherent Raman imaging is a team favorite, we are “technique agnostic” and both use and develop new imaging methods depending on the research or clinical need. For problems in the area of melanoma research, we routinely use a combination of coherent Raman and nonlinear absorption techniques, such as sum-frequency absorption and pump-probe microscopies. A priority in our advanced microscopy research is the in the growing field of Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Tomography, where drugs and their downstream effects are measured and quantified using imaging tools. We use mainly coherent Raman and fluorescence lifetime approaches paired with machine learning to map drug uptake and follow treatment response.

ImmunoOncology: Ultrasensitive Detection of Leukocyte-Ligand Interactions
While it is now well understood that tumors have mechanisms of escaping the immune system, most current studies are focused on immune checkpoint inhibitors. Recently, it was discovered that the mucin known as MUC16, whose secretions are boosted during ovarian cancer, can bind to and inhibit the function of natural killer (NK) cells in circulation. Problematically, this binding occurs on the order of < 10 molecules per cell lying far below the detection threshold of cytometry methods. We have developed a new approach that leverages 1) the intense scattering of plasmonic nanoparticles, 2) microscopy, and 3) computational analysis to digitally count the number of ligands bound to peripheral blood mononuclear cells. This tool is being developed for specific challenges in the progression of ovarian cancer in collaboration with our partners, PnP Research Corp. and Dr. Daniel Cramer at the Brigham and Women's Hospital.


Within Wellman

Rox Anderson, MD

Hensin Tsao, MD, PhD

Mei X. Wu, MD, PhD

Outside Wellman


David Fisher (MGH)


David Langenau (MGH)


Peter So (MIT)


PnP Research Corp


Manish Patankar (U Wisc)


Daniel Cramer (BWH)


Irene Georgakoudi (Tufts)


Tarl Prow (U Queensland)


Dieter Manstein (CBRC)


Sam Lin (BIDMC)


Rodney Chan (USAISR)


Xiomara Calderon-Colon (Johns Hopkins)


Lloyd Miller (Johns Hopkins)


Christine Huang (MGH)